Friar Basketball

What Ed Cooley Found on the Transfer Market

Noah Horchler

One of Ed Cooley’s favorite basketball adages comes from Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey. Cooley often references Brey’s belief that you consistently win in college basketball by “staying old.”

Cooley frequently cited his team’s youth throughout its struggles in 2018-19. While it’s difficult to call a team with three juniors and a fifth year senior in its rotation young, Providence certainly played that way during much of last season.

Judging by Cooley’s approach to recruiting this spring, he made the determination the Friars won’t be young again for quite some time.

Providence picked up a commitment from graduate transfer Luwane Pipkins in March. Pipkins will be eligible to play next season and his potential impact was documented here last month.

With Pipkins in the fold next season, Providence will feature four seniors in its rotation (Pipkins, Alpha Diallo, Maliek White, Kalif Young), five if Emmitt Holt is granted a sixth year of eligibility and is healthy enough to contribute. This also assumes Diallo doesn’t jump ship after testing the NBA waters in May.

The paint will be anchored by junior big man Nate Watson, while the development of sophomores AJ Reeves and David Duke very well could determine this team’s outlook come March. Expectations for Reeves will be high, even outside of Providence. Both ESPN and the Athletic’s Sam Vecenie have written about Reeves as a potential 2nd round NBA pick in 2020.

With pieces in place for next season, Cooley had the luxury of attacking the transfer market for players who could sit out in 2019-20 and become eligible the year following.

In a span of 24 hours the Friars received commitments from two priority transfer targets in in 6’8 Noah Horchler and 5’10 point guard Jared Bynum.Both will sit out the upcoming season. Horchler has just a year of eligibility remaining, while Bynum comes with three.

Let’s start with Bynum and his potential impact.

As a freshman at St. Joe’s, Bynum played over 36 minutes a night, scoring 11.3 points per game, dishing out 4.5 assists, and grabbing nearly four boards. His numbers may be inflated some by the sheer number of minutes he received (including a stretch of seven straight games without going to the bench), but there’s a lot he brings to the table that PC simply didn’t have last year.

Providence was in the 31st percentile in the country in spot up shooting situations in 2018-19. They finished in just the 3rd percentile nationally in P&R ball handler efficiency, 15th in isolation, and barely registered in scoring off of hand-offs.

Bynum lived off the pick and roll. 33% of his possessions came out of pick and rolls, and his .752 points per possession is solid. He was good in spot up opportunities (.933 ppp) and did so frequently (20% of his usage). Bynum put up fairly solid numbers in 77 isolation possessions as well. While his hand-off opportunities were very limited (14 possessions), his points per possession would rank in the 93rd percentile nationally.

Bynum had 19 points and seven assists against URI in March, led the way with 20/6/5 in a beating of St. Louis in February, and scored nine points to go along with nine rebounds and four assists at Villanova.

The list of seven schools Bynum considered this spring included Stanford, Clemson, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Providence, Butler, and Seton Hall.

Horchler is an inside-out scoring threat who was a double double threat every time out for North Florida this past season. He averaged 16 points per game, while shooting nearly 60% from inside the 3-point arc. His 9.3 boards a night should translate to the Big East, as it did against higher tier opponents in 2018-19:

  • 19/12 vs. Dayton (7-11 from the field)
  • 10/10 vs. Penn State (5-9 from the field)
  • 16/10 at Florida (8-10 from the field)
  • 9/10 at Minnesota (4-13 from the field)
  • 13/6 at Florida State (6-9 from the field)
  • 10/7 at Auburn (4-5 from the field

Horchler excelled in rolling off of pick and rolls last season, as his 1.25 points per possession ranked him in the 83rd percentile nationally. He ranked in the 62nd percentile in scoring off of cuts, and put up a steady .857 points per possession mark in 161 post attempts. To put that in perspective, Watson posted up 178 times for PC last year, while Diallo was second on the team with 60 post attempts.

Ideally, Horchler becomes what Holt was prior to his abdominal surgery — a scoring threat who can post some, finishes efficiently when moving to the bucket, and stretches the floor from an interior position.

His 3-point percentage dipped from 34.8% two seasons ago to 29.6% last season, but those numbers are a bit misleading. He shot 23-66 from deep his first season at North Florida and 21-71 last year.

His 79 offensive rebounds would have been good for second on PC this past season.

In addition to the Friars, he considered Hawaii, Ole Miss, and Clemson this spring, according to 247sports.

While the 2018-19 campaign was a disappointing one on the floor, Providence continues to lock down their top targets on the recruiting trail.

Priority number one last summer was North Carolina small forward Greg Gantt, a top 70 player in the class of 2019. He was PC’s only pledge heading into this spring.

Cooley said he wanted to find point guard help and landed a 20 point per game scorer in the Atlantic-10 in Pipkins, and followed that up with Bynum, who brings a unique blend of experience and long term eligibility. In Horchler, the Friars get a productive big man at the D1 level with experience who could potentially help on both the glass and scoring. Bynum and Horchler also keep Providence “old” following the departures of what figures to be a large chunk of next year’s rotation.

Twitter: Kevin_Farrahar

2 Comments

  1. Bat Man

    April 25, 2019 at 12:35 am

    good solid college hoop players.
    nice to see they scouting local kid this week in east bay, probably better future than Bynum.
    be really sweet to see them land the marquette twin transfers.

  2. Derec Lamendola

    April 25, 2019 at 3:10 am

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